Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Diplomacy Open to the Public
3.Cooperation with Local Governments
In recent years, local governments and communities have actively pursued wide-ranging economic exchange initiatives (export/tourism promotion) and international cooperation, without being confined only to traditional international exchange (sister/friendship city exchange) activities. The role played by local governments and communities in diplomacy is absolutely crucial from the perspective of fostering mutual international understanding, enhancing Japan’s presence in the international community, and strengthening the Japan brand.
MOFA implements various measures to strengthen cooperation with local governments and communities engaged in international efforts in various fields with an aim to reinforce the comprehensive diplomatic capacity of the nation under the slogan of “All-Japan.”
As measures to support local governments to promote the regional attractiveness of Japan and to develop local industry and regional economy, “Regional Promotion Projects” have been conducted using Japan’s overseas diplomatic facilities. In 2014, various local governments held 10 PR projects and seminars for local products and tourism in Asia, North America and Europe.
MOFA also carries out “Regional Promotion Seminars” to promote the policies and appeal of their respective regions to the diplomatic corps in Japan, in cooperation with local governments. In 2014, MOFA hosted three seminars with such themes as “Corporate/Investment Attraction Strategy” and “Tourism” and conducted four local study tours (Chiba Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture, Chiba City and Koya Town, Wakayama Prefecture).
In February, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara hosted the reception in support of the reconstruction of the Tohoku region attended by vice-governors of three disaster-stricken prefectures and chairpersons of the prefectural assemblies, where accurate information on the disaster stricken areas was provided using scientific data on food safety and local products. Furthermore, in view of supporting the international initiatives of local governments, the “Reception Hosted by Foreign Minister on the Occasion of the General Meeting of the Japan Association of City Mayors” was held in June. Exhibition booths of local governments and stage performances to advertise local attractions were examples of promotional activities to build networks with diplomatic corps in Japan and to deepen their understanding about the regions.
Japanese ambassadors and consuls-general, while staying in Japan for business or leave, visit local governments to present the latest information on other countries and give consultation about cooperation between their offices abroad and local governments. Information on international exchange is also provided proactively and a “Local Partnership Cooperation Forum” was held in Tokyo in February and a “Local Partnership Kansai Symposium Cooperation” was held in Osaka in October.
The first part of the “Local Partnership Cooperation Forum” was the diplomatic policy briefing. In the second part, four themes were discussed by working groups: “Export Promotion of Local Specialties, such as Agricultural Products,” “Attracting Tourists from ASEAN Countries,” “Promotion of Cultural Exchange,” and “Supporting Japanese Companies to Develop Overseas Business,” where local government officials and external experts, and officers from relevant ministries, including MOFA, exchanged their opinions.
The theme of the “Local Partnership Cooperation Kansai Symposium” was the “Economic Partnership and the Kansai Economy: Expectations for Revitalizing Kansai Economy” and active discussions were held about the outlook of economic partnership agreement negotiations and cases of SME (Small- and Middle-sized Enterprises) support by MOFA. Moreover, a wide range of information on measures taken in collaboration between MOFA and local governments and international exchange and economic exchange initiatives conducted by local governments is now available on the Glocal Diplomatic Network and Glocal Web magazine posted on the website of MOFA.
Revitalization of the regions is regarded as a priority issue of the Cabinet and the government will make concerted efforts to address this issue. In an effort toward that end, MOFA has set up the Task Force on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan. The Task Force cooperates with the Council on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan of the Cabinet Secretariats to promote further partnership with the regions through summarization and generalization of information on the efforts of MOFA for regional vitalization in a cross-ministerial manner.